checking the mailEvery year I pause over the same name on my Christmas card list. Do I send him one or not? The question comes up every year, which makes me think I’m not the only one with questions about Christmas card etiquette. So, in hopes of making the decisions easier for someone else here goes:

Should I send a card to my co-workers?

My motto is, if you send a card to one, send one to all. This is especially true if you are the boss. You shouldn’t play favorites. The alternative, sending just a few, is bound to backfire…someone will overhear someone else saying “What a nice card!” and wonder why they weren’t included. Of course if you work at a large company this isn’t very practical. Use your judgment and limit it to those you work with on a daily basis for example, or your immediate team.

Christmas card etiquette suggests a more secular message, such as Happy Holidays, for the workplace. It’s nice to be able to order cards in smaller quantities so you have the flexibility to customize the message, change or add photos, etc., without additional costs.

Do I send one to my boss?

Sure, why not? It’s always a good idea to strengthen your relationship with your boss, and this is just one small gesture that says, “I value our relationship and wish you happy holidays.”

What about friends I haven’t seen in years?

If you want to stay connected to a friend, send them a Christmas card. It’s that simple. Time and distance should not matter. We may lose touch with people, but thanks to Google and Facebook, no one is completely out of reach. Look them up and send them a Christmas card. Perhaps you will hear back, perhaps you won’t. Either way, there’s nothing wrong with spreading a little holiday cheer.

Is there a right time to drop someone from the list?

Perhaps, if you need to tighten your budget or have had an irreparable falling out with someone, you might trim your list. On the other hand, is the small savings worth the uneasiness that cutting someone might cause? A casual poll around here sides with “once on the list, always on the list.”

Some people never send a card back. Should I keep sending mine?

Some people don’t do Christmas Cards. I have had a few years when I have been too busy and worried that I would offend people by not sending one. So I never assume that because I don’t get one, that mine won’t be well received.

Should I send one to “temporary friends?”

By this I mean families with whom we have a current relationship, but didn’t last year and probably won’t next year, such as the families on our son’s hockey team. For us this is an easy decision. We send one to everyone on the team, but feel no obligation to send one the following year, unless we continue the relationship. It’s also perfectly fine to send one to certain members and not others. Just remember, sending a card is a way to confirm or maintain a connection. It shouldn’t feel like an obligation.

Will a Christmas card offend my non-Christian friends?

A Christmas card can be religious, but it doesn’t have to be. The way I look at it, a card is a greeting. And a friend is a friend. I wouldn’t leave these friends off my list, but I do make sure to send a Happy Holidays message to them. Since I have gotten cards in return wishing me Happy Holidays or a Happy New Year, I am pretty sure they’re not offended by my greeting. On the other hand, many people feel strongly that Christmas is a religious holiday and would never send anything but a religious Christmas card. They limit their list to others who celebrate the holiday. It’s a matter of personal choice.